‘Dire’ need for U.S. military assistance to counter terrorism: Sisi
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi during his meeting with American channel Fox News - Photo courtesy of presidential office

CAIRO: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi called for the U.S. to assist Egypt in its war on terrorism, and to release military equipment and aid, in an interview with American channel Fox News that aired Monday.

“It is important for the U.S. to understand our need for weapons and equipment is dire, especially at the time when Egyptians feel they are fighting terrorism and want to feel like the U.S. is standing by them in that fight,” Sisi told Fox news through a translator.

Following the ouster of Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 following mass protests calling on him to step down, and the dispersal of pro-Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins at Rabaa al-Adaweya, American officials refrained from calling the events a coup, but did postpone the delivery of a military aid, and set a condition that in order for aid to be released Egypt must demonstrate its commitment to the democratic process. American annual assistance to Egypt usually totals more than $1.2 billion.

“The suspending of equipment was a negative signal to the Egyptian public,” the president said, adding that “the U.S. has been helping Egypt a lot throughout 30 years; Egypt now needs U.S. help, especially in the military field more than ever, within the framework of the Egyptian counter-terrorism network.”

In late November 2014, Egypt announced that the U.S. had delivered a shipment of Apache helicopters.

“We have to admit that terrorism is a threat not just to Egypt,” Sisi said, and he called for the U.S. to support an Arab “ready force” to fight terrorism, that would include Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Egypt.

Egypt is a member nation of a coalition now fighting against the Islamic State group, but has not engaged militarily in Syria or Iraq. In mid-February, following the release of a video showing the beheading of 20 Coptic Egyptians in Libya by a branch of the Islamic State, Egypt carried out targeted airstrikes on alleged IS targets in the Libyan cities of Derna and Sirte, in cooperation with the Tobruk-based government.

Sisi also nodded towards the upcoming economic summit as a means to secure the nation, adding “If Egypt is stable, this will represent a bedrock of stability in the region.”

The president said Egypt was doing all it could to create an “investment-conducive economy;” the long-awaited summit, originally announced following Sisi’s election in June 2014, has been twice postponed. An estimated 80 countries will be sending high-level delegations to the conference, from March 13-15.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to attend the conference, the State Department spokesperson announced Monday.

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